26 Feb JAM Signs Estate of Jazz Legend Charlie Parker
JAMPOL ARTIST MANAGEMENT, INC. SIGNS WORLDWIDE DEAL TO REPRESENT ESTATE OF JAZZ LEGEND CHARLIE PARKER
Read all about it in Variety!
Saxophone Giant and Icon of Improvisation’s Work and Life to Be Brought to New Generations Via New Projects and Emerging Platforms
LOS ANGELES (February 26, 2018) Jampol Artist Management, Inc. (JAM, Inc.), is announcing worldwide management of the estate of jazz visionary Charlie Parker. In this capacity, JAM, Inc. will introduce Parker’s trailblazing music to new audiences; expand awareness of his role in not only advancing jazz but helping to invent the form known as bebop; celebrate his importance as an early “superstar soloist” of modern music; and bring the extraordinary, inspirational and heartbreaking story of the man known as “Bird” to new platforms.
With these efforts, the world will come to understand Miles Davis’ famous observation: “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker.”
Charles Parker, Jr., was born in 1920 in Kansas City, Kansas, of African-American and Choctaw parentage. By age 11 he’d begun to play the saxophone; by 15 he’d decided to dedicate his life to it.
He polished his craft during the ’30s, and was notoriously driven—as much by adversity as by obsession. According to one legendary anecdote, his subpar blowing at an early jam session so annoyed Count Basie’s drummer, Jo Jones, that Jones threw a cymbal at the fledgling Bird’s feet. Parker was mortified but unbowed, and redoubled his efforts. By the late ’30s, he had developed stylistic innovations that would come to be associated with the burgeoning, controversial bebop form. “Cherokee,” which would become one of his signature tunes, was legendarily the basis for his breakthrough.
“Jeff Jampol, Kenny Nemes and the entire JAM team are incredibly innovative and talented. Our
attorneys, Sindee Levin and Albert “Sonny” Murray, have done great work for us the past couple of years
and played a very important role introducing us to Jeff Jampol and other important initiatives for Charlie
Parker’s estate, said Abraham Daniel, administrator of the Estate of Charlie Parker. We look forward to
working on some great projects that will share Bird’s story and music with a new generation of fans.”
“I realized by using the high notes of the chords as a melodic line, and by the right harmonic progression,
I could play what I heard inside me,” he noted in an interview that appeared in 1939’s Masters of Jazz.
“That’s when I was born.”
A car accident during his teens landed Parker in the hospital, where he made the fatal acquaintance of opioid drugs. What began as morphine dependence for pain management would later spiral into the heroin addiction that shadowed and ultimately claimed his life.
He began touring with Jay McShann—with whom he made his first professional recordings, and, in 1939, relocated to New York. He scraped by as a dishwasher, among other odd jobs, and continued playing with McShann until 1942, when he joined Earl Hines’ band. It was there he first played with longtime collaborator and fellow bebop progenitor Dizzy Gillespie.
It was a huge loss to posterity that a Musicians’ Union strike from 1942-44 put a freeze on the recording of new music, as Parker (known variously as Bird and Yardbird among jazz heads) and Gillespie made enormous creative strides in this new musical terrain. But starting with such stellar dates as the November 1945 “Reboppers” sessions for Savoy, which paired Parker with Gillespie, Miles Davis and Max Roach, Bird’s improvisations became the hottest story in jazz. “Ko-Ko,” “Billie’s Bounce” and other stone classics of the Parker canon emerged from these studio excursions. These would be joined by “Ornithology,” “Donna Lee,” “Yardbird Suite” and other emblematic sides of the’40s.
It is an article of faith, meanwhile, that aforementioned heads, armchair musicologists and others routinely schlepped their Nagra reel-to-reels into smoky late-night gigs to capture Bird’s stratospheric sorties. Still, as bop became a familiar cultural style—its goatees and berets and catchphrases echoed and lampooned in the mainstream—the virtuosity of its greatest exponents went largely unrecognized. This took its toll on the musician and many of his contemporaries.
Parker journeyed to California with Gillespie for a string of dates, during which time his addiction deepened. When heroin became difficult to find, he turned to drink; he ultimately did a six-month stretch at Camarillo Mental Hospital.
Discharged from the facility and temporarily restored to health, Parker recorded “Relaxin’ at Camarillo” and returned to Manhattan—where smack was more readily available.
His creative drive, however, was undimmed, and the late forties saw some of his most glorious work, notably the sublime set Charlie Parker With Strings. Produced by the great Norman Granz, the set— which brought to fruition the sax firebrand’s longtime dream project—paired Parker’s soulful conjurings with chamber orchestra, to revelatory effect on such indelible standards as “April in Paris,” “Summertime,” “Laura” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Though still deprived of the fame he deserved stateside, Parker was greeted in the jazz-loving haven of Paris as a deity.
He joined Gillespie for 1952’s Bird and Diz, on Clef/Verve, once again produced by Granz and featuring Roach, Thelonious Monk and Buddy Rich among its personnel. The set is a late high-water mark for bop.
The 1953 live album Jazz at Massey Hall, meanwhile, became a touchstone for the genre, as Parker, alongside Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and Max Roach, assayed a spirited mix of standards and originals like Gillespie’s “Salt Peanuts” and “A Night in Tunisia” during a Toronto concert. It soon gained fame as “the greatest jazz concert ever.” It marked Parker’s final collaboration with Gillespie.
It would also be one of his last recordings of any kind. Charlie Parker died in 1955; he was 34. He was suffering from cirrhosis, an ulcer and pneumonia when he succumbed to a heart attack. It’s said the coroner estimated his age at between 55 and 60 before learning Parker’s real age.
The saga of his life was the subject of Clint Eastwood’s 1988 biopic Bird and has also been limned in other, less directly biographical drams.
While Parker’s life ended tragically, his work would eventually earn virtually unanimous recognition as one of the most singular discographies in jazz. What’s more, Parker himself stands as a giant figure—not merely one of the greatest sax players who ever lived but one who pushed the art of improvisation to new places. The inspiration and spontaneity in his creations have emboldened countless young birds to try their wings.